Soap Opera Digest: Congratulations on doing ANDI MACK. Talk about the role.
Juliet Mills: Well, I’m a neighbor. She’s a bit of a crust patch! She’s a card player and a game player and so she gets Buffy to come in and play with her. She’s not quite such a bad tempered old thing as she seems. Nothing very complicated story-wise!
Digest: It sounds like a fun character.
Mills: Definitely fun, and lovely group to work with. It’s a lovely cast and crew and it was nice shooting in Salt Lake. I’d never been to Salt Lake so that was fun and just went in, did my work and was out in three days. It was fun. I enjoyed it. Who knows? She’s a neighbor. She could reappear! [laughs]
Digest: What else have you been up to?
Mills: Well, I work in England on and off in the theater but the last thing I did of any consequence was a film last year in Hawaii with Matt Damon and Jim Caviezel called Jo, the Medicine Runner that’s coming out early next year. It was exciting. We shot on the big island of Hawaii and David Cunningham is the director and it’s sort of a family saga, set in 1928 on a coffee plantation and I play the sort of matriarch from hell! As I’m getting older I’m getting more of these fun roles. It’s nice playing character roles, especially baddies. I really enjoy it, I must say. You don’t have to care how you look or anything!
Digest: You’ve been working consistently since you were a child.
Mills: Well, I did a couple of little scenes in movies with my father [Sir John Mills], but I started working in the theater when I was 16 in a play called Five Finger Exercise that went from London to New York, so I have been working really since I was 16, I suppose! I was supposed to go to RADA [Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts] and I didn’t go because I got this wonderful opportunity in London. It was a new play by a new playwright Peter Shaffer and directed by Sir John Gielgud, so I got a good start. Of course it was a family business really. I always wanted to be an actress, I just started than I thought I would. And then Hayley started even younger than me!
Digest: You don’t seem to be slowing down at all.
Mills: No! Things get more interesting in a way! You don’t have to retire when you’re an actor. You just go on until nobody wants you anymore [laughs]. And that hasn’t happened yet! I’m doing in a play with my sister [Hayley], an Alan Ayckbourn play called Snake in the Grass. It’s a sort of psychological thriller. I’ve even got plans for next year. Usually in this business one hardly knows what one’s doing from one week to the next. Especially in television, where you literally get cast one day and they tell you you’re on a flight to Salt Lake the next.
Digest: Do you find theater to be the most challenging acting work?
Mills: It is the most challenging, but it’s also the most rewarding because of the fact that it’s live and you’ve got the audience there. That wonderful exchange of energy with a live audience is thrilling. They let you know if you get it right. They’re nice and quiet or they’re laughing when they’re supposed to be! You can really feel when you have an audience. It’s exciting to do live theater. It’s terrifying! It never gets any easier leading up to the first night.
Digest: Would you go back to soaps?
Mills: Yes I would, but not long term. I’d love to do a little stint on a soap, but … PASSIONS was nine years. I can’t see myself doing something like that, it really does take over your whole life. Especially with Tabitha. I was always talking to inanimate objects or animals! I used to have these great, long monologues. It was very hard work. I loved every minute of it. But I don’t think I’m up to that kind of hard work at this point. But to do an arc on daytime…there’s some fine actors on daytime. They’re very underestimated.
Digest: Do you keep in touch with the cast from PASSIONS?
Mills: Galen Gering [ex-Luis], my producer Lisa de Cazotte … she’s one of my very best friends, and some of the directors. Not many of the cast, although we had a reunion this year, so I did see them all. And I keep up with my little girl, Nicole Cox [ex-Endora]. She came onto the show when Timmy [Josh Ryan Evans] died and she was my baby from when she was six years old until she was six. She’s sort of a daughter to me, in a way.
Digest: We’re looking forward to seeing you on ANDI MACK this week!
Mills: I look like hell! Don’t be shocked [laughs]. She’s supposed to be the old bag next door. I don’t want my husband to see it!
Look for Mills to appear on ANDI MACK on Friday, November 17 on Disney Channel.